While scores of Russian-owned superyachts have been seized by European jurisdictions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the focus over the last few days has been on the Scheherazade, purported to belong to Vladimir Putin himself.
Now under arrest in the Italian port of Marina di Carrara while authorities examine the books, the top-of-the-range Scheherazade was completed by Germany’s Lurssen in 2020, with the project overseen by Monaco-based Imperial Yachts.
Imperial has told a number of news outlets that it had no hand in the management of Scheherazade once construction was completed.
A spokesman for Imperial Yachts told RFE/RL that the company’s involvement with the Scheherazade ended with its delivery in June 2020. He said that the company knew the identity of the yacht’s owner but added: “as is customary in the industry, client confidentiality is considered paramount.”
He added that the company “notes the recent press speculation” and it is “not aware of any involvement (by Putin) whatsoever.”
Captain Guy Bennett-Pearce, a British citizen, has denied that Putin has ever set foot on the yacht. The mainly Russian crew has been replaced by a British one within the last week, locals report.
On Tuesday Ukrainian President Zelensky implored the Italian parliament: “Don’t be a resort for murderers.. Lock all their real estate, accounts and yachts – from the Scheherazade to the smallest ones.”
Unsurprisingly, the toilets on board are gold-plated but more bizarrely, a former deckhand told Navalny’s team there is also a self-playing piano in a stateroom that performs a famous 2014 song entitled ‘Vladimir Putin is a Fine Fellow’. “Vladimir Putin is a fine fellow!” runs the chorus. “Politician, leader, and fighter! Our president has raised up the country! Putin did not betray Russia.”
PHOTO: Imperial Yachts operates from Ermanno Palace in Monaco